Sunday, 20 March 2016

Gemma Arterton on 'stampy and shouty' feminism

Gemma Arterton says she doesn't like 'stampy and shouty feminism'. When I first heard this, I wanted to stamp and shout at her, in my rude and nasty way.

A soft and gentle approach to feminism - if only someone had thought of that before! The Suffragettes could have saved themselves a whole of of bother if they'd politely asked for the voter rather than chaining themselves to railings and making all that trouble.

Gemma Arterton, looking wistfully up at something or other.
Photo by Danny Harrison via Flickr Creative Commons
The actor, who's currently playing the original feisty bit on the side, Nell Gwynn, was interviewed about her current role in the Telegraph.

If you just read the headline, you'd think that Arterton is speaking out against feminism. She's not. She identifies herself as a feminist and has spoken out about increasing opportunities and pay for women in her industry. She told the Guardian, in 2011, "I don't know why it's still a taboo to be a feminist. I think people think you're going to have a big old hairy muff and be mouthy and spit on men."

A feminine approach to feminism

Fair enough, she want a gentler, maybe more feminine approach to equality. I get that, and there is something to be said for her approach. Arterton is a successful actor, at the top of her game. Women like her, in positions of power, can slowly and gently improve the situation for other women. My problem isn't her approach to feminsim, but her attitude towards people with a different approach, and the language she uses to describe it.

Feminism is a movement and an ideology with wide arms, It has room for all kinds of attitudes and approaches. There is room for Gemma Arterton and there is room for more militant and radical ideas.

But  the words 'stampy' and 'shouty' are reminscent of the ways people who are against women and women's equality have portrayed us for centuries. They recall historically negative portrayals of women as 'shrill'. 'gossiping', 'scolding', 'nagging' and 'hysterical'.

Forgetting where you came from...

Gemma Arterton is a successful actor and she'll be earning a decent amount of money. It's thanks to feminism that her earnings go straight to her, that she doesn't have to hand them over to her male relatives. She can make decisions about what acting jobs she wants to take - nobody else makes those decisions for her.

Arterton and lots of other women don't want to be seen to be rude and nasty girls. But we owe it to our rude and nasty forbears to, just sometimes, stand up and be a little bit stampy and a little bit shouty.

You can read the full Telegraph interview with Gemma Arterton here.

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